MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)


The Sports Network

Vancouver (2-2-3) at Real Salt Lake (3-0-4), 9:30 p.m.

Sandy, UT ( - Real Salt Lake will aim to keep its unbeaten start to the season intact on Saturday when the Claret-and-Cobalt welcome Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Rio Tinto Stadium.

Its been a stellar start to the season for RSL. Through seven matches the club has three victories and four draws to sit in third place in the Western Conference with 13 points, just three behind league leaders FC Dallas.

RSL kept its unbeaten run going last weekend after earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West rivals the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto.

Chances were hard to come by for most of the match, but RSL persevered and found the winner in the 78th minute when Ned Grabavoy worked his way into the penalty area and ripped a low strike into the bottom right corner, past the outstretched arm of Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

Desperate for a result, Portland sent numbers surging forward, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando made several spectacular saves to claim the three points and his second Player of the Week honor of the season.

"It was just keep it zero. We've been letting in some late goals. Keep it zero, even if we're winning, keep the shutout. Just stay low, be ready and was able to expect the ball," Rimando said.

"It feels good," RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said of his team's unbeaten record. "I felt that we did a lot of the right things to win the game today. It was an awesome feeling in the stadium today with a sold-out, standing-room- only crowd. You could feel that we were building up to score a goal when Ned [Grabavoy] put that in. The energy in the stadium was unbelievable."

Vancouver, meanwhile, is coming off a solid effort last weekend to rally from two deficits at BC Place and earn a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Stefan Ishizaki opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the 38th minute, but Vancouver responded with a tally from Darren Mattocks in the 67th minute.

The visitors took the lead for a second time through Robbie Keane in the 77th, but the Whitecaps bounced back again with another equalizing goal from Kekuta Manneh as the clubs shared the spoils.

Whitecaps rookie head coach Carl Robinson praised his team's resiliency:

"Totally important we got a result today," Robinson said. "In the last two games we've shown we can compete with one of the top teams in Major League Soccer in LA, and a top manager. It was hard, hard work. We made it hard work. I don't think in the first half we had the belief that we could go toe-to-toe with them at home in front of our own fans. I think we were playing safe."

Saturday's contest will be the ninth all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and RSL -- and first of three meetings this season. RSL leads the all-time series between the sides, holding a 4-2-2 record.

Read more Major League Soccer stories from the Miami Herald

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